august bank holiday 2018 travel advice

Bank holiday travel advice

The Great British bank holiday getaway will start from lunchtime on Friday (24 August) as people take advantage of the final weekend of summer

22 August 2018

A recent AA-Populus survey* of 20,082 AA members found that 45 per cent are likely to be on the road during the four-day period, either travelling on holiday or an outing – which equates to around 15 million drivers on leisure journeys over the long weekend. 

Friday and Monday (24 and 27 August) are set to be the busiest days. The AA is advising drivers to expect delays on major routes and plan ahead for the journey.

  • Around 15 million drivers on bank holiday leisure journeys
  • AA predicts one breakdown every 10 seconds
  • 45% of AA members likely to drive, particularly North East England (51%) and Yorkshire & Humberside (50%)
  • Traffic congestion building from Friday lunchtime (24 August) on holiday routes
  • Packed weekend of music and leisure events with final festivals of summer
  • Check your car before you go

Motorway queue

Those in the North East (51%) are most likely to be packing the car, followed by drivers in Yorkshire & Humberside (50%). Half of respondents said they will not be travelling.

Out and about

A diverse range of events will also influence traffic volumes. Highlights include several music festivals – Reading and Leeds; Creamfields, Cheshire; CarFest South, Hampshire; and South West Four, London – and the Notting Hill Carnival, London, among many others.

Sports fans are well catered for too, with Rugby League’s Challenge Cup Final at Wembley and a full football fixture list.

Vince Crane, AA patrol of the year, says: “August bank holiday weekend is always a busy one on the roads. Traffic is likely to build up on Friday evening as people set off early to make the most of the long weekend, and will be busy again for the return on Monday afternoon - so allow plenty of extra time if you’re travelling then. 

Traffic is likely to build up on Friday evening as people set off early to make the most of the long weekend, and will be busy again for the return on Monday afternoon
Vince Crane, AA patrol of the year

“Routes to the South-west and the coast are usually among the busiest; and there will be localised congestion around events, especially at finish time. It’s a good idea to plan an alternative route in case of delays and carry plenty of water – at least a litre per person and enough for any pets you’re travelling with.

“If you’re travelling with children, take plenty of things to keep them entertained – there are lots of fun ideas for car games online. Remember to plan some stops to break up any journey more than three hours long.”

Keeping you on the move

Last year, the AA attended close to 35,000 breakdowns over the August bank holiday – averaging one every ten seconds. 

Battery issues, tyre problems, overheating engines and keys locked in the car are some of the most likely reasons for drivers to call for help. 

The UK’s biggest breakdown provider has extra patrols on duty in the busiest areas, but is urging drivers to check their cars before they leave.

The latest data shows crucial car checks are being overlooked, as nearly half of drivers (47%) don’t check the condition of their vehicle’s tyres before a long journey. More than a quarter (26%) don’t check tyre pressures while only 30% of drivers increase the pressure if carrying a heavy load.  

Vince Crane says: “It’s vital to make sure your car’s tyres are in good condition – they are the only thing keeping it in contact with the road. 

“Worn tyres are more likely to suffer a blow-out (especially in high temperatures as heat aggravates existing problems), and in the event of a summer thunderstorm they’re more likely to aquaplane, meaning a significantly increased stopping distance and loss of control. Don’t forget to check the spare if you have one, and any caravan or trailer.”

And it’s not just tyres that are neglected. More than a third (36%) of drivers don’t check the engine oil level and over a quarter (26%) don’t check the windscreen washer fluid level before a long journey.

Take a few minutes to do the basic checks on your car before you leave – this is really important if you’re making a long journey. Remember FLOWER – Fuel, Lights, Oil, Water, Electrics and Rubber
Vince Crane, AA patrol of the year

Vince adds: “A few quick car checks could help you avoid a breakdown. Whether you’re heading off on holiday or a day trip, take a few minutes to do the basic checks on your car before you leave – this is really important if you’re making a long journey. Remember FLOWER – Fuel, Lights, Oil, Water, Electrics and Rubber.”

The AA can also help give those on the road a heads-up on traffic problems by using the AA App, which is free to members with smartphones.

AA-Populus research summary – August bank holiday 2018

Up to 45% of respondents (slightly up from 43% last August and 41% in 2016) are likely to drive somewhere over the August bank holiday weekend

The days on which AA members intend to travel average out at: 

  • Friday, 24 August (77%)
  • Saturday, 25 August (72%)
  • Sunday, 26 August (70%)
  • Monday, 27 August (75%)
Traffic hotspots and roadworks

In Scotland, it isn’t a bank holiday but the Edinburgh Festival runs until 28 August, which causes additional congestion in the capital.


Highways England is removing more than 300 miles of roadworks from motorways and major roads across the country this weekend, to help bank holiday trips go smoothly.

Bank holiday getaway preparation advice
  • Check your car: Preparation is key so before heading off on your summer holiday road trip, do the essential checks on your car
  • Plot your route: Check the traffic and weather reports before you leave and avoid travelling at peak times if possible. Allow plenty of extra time for the journey in case of delays – particularly if you have a ferry or plane to catch – and make sure you have sufficient fuel 
  • Pack the essentials: Pack plenty of supplies to keep everyone well hydrated as well as any personal medication, entertainment to keep the kids occupied, a fully-charged mobile phone in case of emergency and sat-nav or a traditional atlas in case of any delays or diversions
  • Plan some stops: Plan in regular stops to break up the journey - at least one every three hours. AA members get up to 20% off food and drink at Moto service stations. When you stop, never give the car keys to the kids to play with and don’t close all the doors unless you are sure you have the keys, as they can easily become locked in. Take pets out of the car with you 
  • Key information: Download the AA App to find nearby parking, local fuel prices, access to the AA’s route planner, see where member discounts apply and get information on what your car’s warning lights mean. Members can also use the free app to report a breakdown and track the attending patrol’s journey to you
  • The AA has produced a handy checklist of basic, year-round car checks using the acronym FLOWER

* Populus received 20,082 responses from AA members to its online poll between 17 and 24 July 2018.

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